Indeed, data science has made an impact in our society, in arts, and in culture. For us to further appreciate the art today. We have to understand Data Science and What is a Data Scientist? Data science is the ability to take information – to be able to have it, to process it, to focus on it as a stimulus, to imagine it, and to convey it. The data scientist is the person who makes data science possible.
In this post, let’s take a look at art in the world of data as published by Christoph Grunberger in his book. The Age of Data.
The Age of Data by Christoph Grünberger
Sometimes art needs a while before it can do something with the new technologies. But when the critical mass of ideas, progress, and context is reached, a new chapter in cultural history has often begun long before it is defined. The first basic work on digital art has just been published. “The Age of Data” is the name of the book. The editor, designer, and author is Christoph Grünberger, who works as an art director for large companies and brands. And right at the front of the title, art already shows what it can do in the meantime. There you can see the tiny figure of a viewer in front of a data sculpture by Refik Anadol. He has become something like the Jeff Koons of digital art, with ubiquitous monumental installations around the world and a visual language that is as simple as it is recognizable. In addition, an aesthetic that overwhelms rather than demands.
Refik Anadol was born in Istanbul. He’s still retained his warm, Mediterranean accent despite having lived in Los Angeles for almost a decade. His way of working is complex. He deconstructs data sets such as the Twitter usage of the city of San Francisco, the weather data for the Sea of Marmara, or entire image archives and feeds them into artificial intelligence, which then creates his moving images from them. A bit like the fractals of the mathematician Benoît Mandelbrot, complex calculations are made visible. With Anadol, however, these AI installations look like lava, like time-lapse flowers or spray that seem to take hold of the room. His inspiration was a movie scene he saw as a kid: the moment in “Blade Runner” when the android Rachael realizes that her memories are not her own,
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Anadol plays with this motif of the machine that creates new images from memories, in ever new variations, which he presents in the book. For example, he processed the city archives of Istanbul. For the 100th anniversary of the Los Angeles Philharmonics, he transformed 77 terabytes of archival footage spanning 100 years into a work that was projected onto the Disney Concert Hall. For his current exhibition in the König Galerie in Berlin, he processed the city’s wind data, among other things. “Data are my pixels, architecture is my canvas,” he once described his work.
Anadol does not come from art. He studied design. Just like Grünberger, he doesn’t have much to do with art history. Accordingly, “The Age of Data” grew more organically than planned. Two years ago, Grünberger published “Analogue Algorithms,” a workbook for designers that deals with the new formal languages that are emerging on and in computers. The discussions resulted in more and more interviews with around 40 artists and collectives who use such formal languages to create works that stand for themselves. “They all had time in lockdown,” says Grünberger. He’s just getting in touch with Zwiesel in Lower Bavaria, where he works because as an art director it doesn’t matter where in the world you are. And because he financed the production of the book via Kickstarter, word quickly got around that he was working on a basic work. “I’d have guys for volumes two, three, and four,” he says. “A lot of people would have liked to have been there.” It was then published by Niggli, a Swiss specialist publisher for architecture, design, and typography.
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The subtitle also indicates that the boundaries between art and design are currently dissolving in this area: “Embracing Algorithms in Art & Design”. The embrace of algorithms in art and design.
The list of new names that appear in the book to remember is as global as it is idiosyncratic. Besides people like Brendan Dawes, Shohei Fujimoto, Lotte Stöver, or Tina Touli there are collectives with orthographically unconventional names like WHITEvoid, Defasten, or RANDOM INTERNATIONAL.
The visual languages are as different as the approaches. The only common thread is the raw material: data. A second similarity is the tendency to make architecture part of the works. Not just through projections. Japanese designer Daito Manabe of the Rhizomatiks collective, for example, transformed the cityscape of Tokyo into a digital space for the video for Squarepusher’s electro track “Terminal Slam”, where data comes to life in time with electro beats. At first, it’s just raw data that takes on more and more form and finally breaks out of the glass facades like the spines of a pufferfish. Others, like the Düsseldorf artist Ralf Baecker, take the space quite literally and install the data streams as physical objects.